Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy New Year!

Today is the unofficial beginning of the Songkran festival in Thailand. I arrived at school at 8:30am and was immediately involved in a 2 hour water fight! Lydia, Katie (the other 2 Kindergarten teachers) and I were totally drenched with water, I had water guns pointed at me from every side and I was wielding a bucket so I could dump water on the kids from above. It was fun to the extreme! It’s so hot in Thailand right now, about 27 degrees when I got to school, so you can imagine what a water fight was like – refreshing doesn’t begin to describe it.  

A little back ground for you. Songkran is the traditional New Year's Day/Year party here and it is FUN FUN FUN!
Forget fireworks, the Thais celebrate their New Year by having a national water fight! State officials, shop owners, whole families, police, teachers, school kids – everyone gets involved! 

Some of my class before the fight began

The opening round

Cream and her watergun which had a Pooh umbrella attached, like that could stop me from pouring water on her head :)

The water fight in full swing

Teachers are targets - Lydia and Katie are soaked

More umbrellas

The final stages

Lone Ranger

Lydia and I - drowned rats
The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water. Thais roam the streets with containers of water or water guns, or post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench passers by. This, however, was not always the way, Songkran was traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends and neighbours.
The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people. One would collect the water after it had been poured over the Buddha statue, then use that "blessed" water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder.
Among young people the holiday evolved to include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand. This has further evolved into water fights and splashing water over people riding in vehicles.
The emphasis nowadays is on fun and water-throwing rather than on the festival's spiritual and religious aspects, which sometimes prompts complaints from traditionalists. But seeing as I am not a traditionalist I am going to enjoy the heck out of sitting on the back of a track and throwing buckets of water at people tomorrow.

On Thursday a few of the teachers and I are going to Khanom, a beach about an hour North of Nakhon Si Thammarat, for 4 days. There’ll be lots of sunshine, swimming, lazing, reading books and hammock time before school starts again on Monday. I love Thailand.

Happy Thai New Year everyone!!

1 comment:

  1. Loved your photos of songran on facebook blissy! so great to see you're having such a good time, naturally i am jealous of you wondrous adventures.
    great idea to start up a blog again, now i can follow your every move religiously. :)

    xxx bean-bag